Plans launched for £14.5 million town centre ‘Learning and Discovery’ store
As town centres across the UK struggle to recover from the decline in traditional retailing and the impact of Covid-19, Stockport is pioneering an innovative plan to increase footfall and inspire a love of learning in children and adults.
Stockroom is the working title for a new, universal, ‘Learning and Discovery Store’ which will repurpose large areas of empty retail space in the Merseyway Shopping Centre around Adlington Walk into a mixed-use learning, culture and events space.
Stockroom will be an inclusive and accessible space which will support the people of Stockport to learn new skills, practice arts and crafts, enjoy live music and performances and benefit from cutting-edge learning and IT facilities. It will be larger than a football field and be a destination which is packed with activities to attract people of all ages and tastes to Stockport town centre as a place to visit and spend time with friends and family.
The Council has been drawn inspiration from highly successful schemes elsewhere including the Idea Store in London, Storyhouse in Chester and the Lightbox in Barnsley where learning, cultural and community services have been put right in the heart of the high street.
Storyhouse has been a huge success attracting more than one million visitors a year to a multi-use facility in the city centre, becoming home to 150 community groups and driving a significant increase in reading with loans of children books increasing by more than 50%.
After creating new mixed-use town centre libraries and cultural hubs visitor figures at Tower Hamlets Idea Stores quadrupled from 550,000 to more than 2 million.
As well as increasing footfall the Council wants Stockroom to inspire a love of learning in children and young people and help the borough to address the underperformance of educational attainment, particularly at ‘A’ Level and among children in disadvantaged areas or with special educational needs or disabilities. Stockport has already won Government funding for Stockroom after the council was successful in securing £14.5m from the Government ‘Future High Streets Fund’ which aims to renew and reshape high streets up and down the country.